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Help 135 Devadasi Women Move From Oppression To Opportunity

"My mother was a Devadasi. She never wanted me to become a devadasi, but I was forced to become one when she fell really ill. My uncle had spent on her medication and he wanted his money back. They told me that I should also be made a Devadasi so that they could use me to get their money back. I had to save my mother's life and had no other option. I was sold to a trader in Sangli in Maharashtra for sex trade. But soon, I fell ill and could not work. My trader refused to let me go unless I paid him back his money. When I went to the hospital for treatment, they found that I was pregnant. My trader forced me to undergo abortion when I was 5 months pregnant. I then returned to work and somehow managed to pay the money and returned to my village.  On returning, I did a tailoring course for two years to become financially independent; I have been running my own tailoring business for 6 years now. With the loan of Rs. 20,000 from Milaap, I was able to buy 3 sewing machines. I have also started training other women who aspire to become independent. Currently, I train 10 women and take Rs.100 as training fees for 1 month. I also work as a farm labourer from 7 AM to 2 PM."

When I returned, I had to start my life from nothing. Being a Devadasi myself, I will never let my two daughters be made Devadasis. My daughters should prosper, should educate themselves. I have painstakingly brought my daughters up so that they are able to live a good life."
-Mahananda from village Kappalaguddi, Belgaum district, Karnataka.

Mahananda is one of an estimated 250,000 girls and women in southwestern India who are still dedicated to their local temple deities as "Devadasis" (meaning "servant of God"). This ancient and outlawed, yet prevalent practice originally gave Devadasis a comfortable life and high social standing, but was soon abused by the rich and powerful. Over the years, the Devadasi system has resulted in trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of women, with almost 64% of these women being forced into prostitution for survival.

Mahananda, however, escaped the system with support from MASS, our field partner. Now a 34-year single mother, she has started her own tailoring business, and is proud that her business will enable her two daughters to complete their education and embark on their own careers.
MASS provides financial support to former Devadasi women like Mahananda to start small businesses like tailoring, rearing livestock, and running small shops. These businesses help them pay their children’s school fees, generate a livelihood for their families, and save up for the future. Becoming entrepreneurs also offers their children a better future, helps integrate them back into society, and eventually allows them to break free from the vicious cycle of prostitution that most Devadasis are doomed to.

Sl. No
Budget Head
No's/ Unit
Training to SHG members on book keeping

100 SHGs x 1 day programme

15 members per SHG x 200 SHG

Food Charges - Rs.50/- per members x 1500 members


Resource Person honoraria & travel expenses - Rs.600/- x 100 SHGs

Tailoring Training

(4 months training I,e 3 training in a year)

25 members per batch x 3 batch

Teacher honoraria

Tailoring machine

Repair Charges

Travel & Other expenses

Donation to start their own business-

Buying buffaloes

Kirana shops

Tailoring machines

Masala powders



The total amount of Rs. 18,79,100 ( 2,29,100 for skill development training + 16,50,000 as working capital donation) will be distributed to the Devadasi women community by MASS.

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2nd December 2016
Dear Supporters,

Thank you for your contributions! With your help, we were able to set up vocational training for over 120 people in Belgaum. Here is a Milaap Fellow’s account of the inauguration ceremony.  

“I am Pragya Banka, a Milaap fellow. On November 10, Sitavva Jodati, CEO of MASS and I visited Hoskoti village to attend the inauguration of the tailoring institute. Field Officer Rukmavva Pandappa Metri organised the event. She was helped by a group of girls from the village. Once the vice president of the village panchayat arrived, the ceremony began with a welcome prayer and lighting of the lamp.

The first batch of 10 girls are daughters of ex-devadasis. They will be given a 4-month tailoring course for 2 hours everyday. Savitri Metri, an ex-devadasi and a master tailor herself will be teaching them. Many of the girls are school dropouts and vocational training will make sure their future livelihood is secure. 
The girls sat in a circle, as Sitavva gave a talk. She began by thanking The Better India and Milaap. She then spoke about the importance of these girls becoming self-reliant in their lives. The inauguration was to include not just opening of the centre but also their first tailoring class. 

After invoking the gods of learning, Savitri instructed the girls to take their seats and officially start their training. The formality of the proceedings gave significance and excitement to the moment. As they set their foot on the paddle, the girls were brimming with delight. This day was the first step in them moving from being school dropouts to successes.

Another tailoring training session was started in Bagewadi village of Hukkedi taluka on November 14. Parallelly five training sessions on bookkeeping were conducted in the villages Athani, Mudalgi, Shivapur, Byakuda and Morab. In total, 119 people (including self-help group women, teenagers and some men) were taught basic concepts of bookkeeping.

The December sessions on bookkeeping will be planned in the upcoming staff meeting of MASS. Till then, they are focusing on strengthening new SHGs in remote locations of Belgaum.”

Team Milaap

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Beneficiary: MASS info_outline
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